Americans’ Contact Group Industry, Corporatocracy, Gaddafi, Gross Inequality, Libya, Military Industrial Complex, Mustafa Abu Shagour, National Transitional Council, NATO, Neoliberal Capitalism, Nouri al-Maliki, Privatization, Security and Surveillance State, Social Unrest, The Elite 1%, War on Terror
The following is an excerpt from an article published just yesterday by Vijay Prashad, chair of South Asian history and director of international studies at Trinity College and author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter. To understand why those on the blunt end of American foreign policy feel compelled to lash out, you should read this:
Western support for Gaddafi not forgotten
…After 9/11, when the West wanted to outsource torture to prisons outside its direct control, Gaddafi (like Mubarak and Syria’s Assad) offered his services. In March 2004, the US opened a diplomatic mission in Tripoli, and the CIA opened up an office there as well. Later that month, Tony Blair came to Libya, the first British prime minister to visit the country since 1943, and he spent considerable time talking about commercial interests (to get Shell its oil concessions) and the “common cause” in fighting terrorism. Blair was excited to meet Gaddafi (the “Leader,” as the British faxes to Tripoli put it) in his tent because “journalists would love it. If this is possible, No. 10 would be grateful.” As quid pro quo, the British organized the “rendition” of LIFG [Libyan Islamic Fighting Group] militants into the hands of the Gaddafi regime. “This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years,” wrote Sir Mark Allen, head of Britain’s MI6 to Gaddafi’s henchman Moussa Koussa on 18 March 2004. The specific matter here was the “safe arrival of Abu Abdallah Sadiq,” the nom de plume of Abdul Hakim Belhadj, former emir of LIFG and now leader of the al-Watan political party (and a crucial leader of the military part of the 2011 Revolution).
A comprehensive Human Rights Watch report, Delivered into Enemy Hands: US-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya, released last week details the stories of a number of the leading figures who were arrested around the world, tortured in US-run prisons in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and then delivered back to Libya. They were handed over to the Libyan authorities with full-awareness that they were going to be tortured or even killed. Belhadj and his wife, Fatima Bouchar (four months pregnant at the time), were picked up in Malaysia and allegedly tortured by the CIA in Bangkok, Thailand. Bouchar told Human Rights Watch, “They knew I was pregnant. It was obvious,” and yet, she, who had no affiliations with any militant groups, was chained up and given no food for five days. The couple were then taken to Libya. In one fax, the CIA thanks the Libyan security service for its “hospitality” and says that its visit was “very productive.” When the couple arrived in Libya, Moussa Koussa chillingly greeted Belhadj, “I’ve been waiting for you.”
In April 2012, Belhadj told the European Parliament, “All we seek is justice. We hope the new Libya, freed from its dictator, will have positive relationships with the West. But this relationship must be built on respect and justice. Only by admitting and apologizing for past mistakes can we move forward together as friends.” People like Belhadj stand for a social section that has had its dignity compromised by Western actions. A longing for dignity drives revolts. It is what compelled the rebellion against Gaddafi’s regime. It is what remains a major catalyst for unrest in the region against Western interests, particularly since there will be no apology for the rendition program or for the close, even servile, collaboration with the Gaddafi regime from, at least, 2003 to 2011. Gaddafi’s henchman, Moussa Koussa was spirited off on a British military plane in March 2011, payback for his services to MI6, and now lives in a comfortable bungalow in Doha, Qatar. Neither he, nor his friend Sir Mark Allen, nor the CIA’s Steve Kappes, will ever have to admit to what they did, apologize for it, or be charged with grave violations of international law.
The humiliations accumulate without outlet.
Libyan rage despite elections
The elections in July heralded an opening for Libya. The results were celebrated in the West, since it seemed that unlike Tunisia and Egypt, the Islamists had not garnered the fruits of the revolts. The neo-liberal sections, led by Mahmoud Jibril’s National Forces Alliance won a majority. Jibril had been the political face of the Libyan Diaspora. After a career in the Gulf, he returned to Libya in the 2000s at the urging of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who wanted to convert his country into a “Kuwait on the Mediterranean.” When things did not work out as planned, Jibril got frustrated. He had no political base. When the rebellion broke out, Jibril threw in his lot with it, and thanks to NATO intervention, was able to use his affinity with the West to put himself into a position of political power. His victory in the polls vindicated NATO, which now felt that it had its man in charge – open to sweetheart deals for Western oil companies and eager to push further the neo-liberal agenda that was constrained five years ago…
And in a recent article in the Hindu Times concerning the writings of the above author Vijay Prashad:
…Conduct of West
Over Libya, Prashad shows just how dirty western conduct has been. Libya, one of Africa’s wealthiest countries, was seriously harmed by U.N. sanctions imposed in 1992 for its alleged involvement in the bombing of a U.S. airliner over the Scottish village of Lockerbie in 1988 (a crime yet to be satisfactorily explained, even according to some of the families who lost loved ones in the attack). The chaos following the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, however, revived western fears over access to oil; George W. Bush and Tony Blair renewed links with Qadhafi, who while no saint himself was now easy prey for Libyan neoliberals — including his son Saif al-Islam, the politician Mahmoud Jibril, the oil corporations, and consultants like McKinsey.
Sensing likely exclusion from the spoils, the eastern region of Cyrenaica rebelled. This was the excuse the Atlantic powers wanted; Qadhafi had long alienated Saudi Arabia, which effectively pushed the Arab League into supporting the U.N. no-fly zone over Libya (only 11 of the 23 members attended the vote), and the west totally ignored the African Union’s strong mediation plan. Western officials’ wild claims of genocide and mass rape — still unproven — by government forces helped override Arab leaders’ doubts, and by the time the latter withdrew their support for the no-fly zone it was too late. Mahmoud Jibril emerged as prime minister of the new state. And a dead Qadhafi could tell no tales…
Sociologist Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya explains how the West uses an instrument called “CONTACT GROUPS” in order to facilitate the toppling of governments and secure the interests of multinational corporations and neoliberal capitalism.
Anybody who has studied how the US and NATO worked to topple the Jamahiriya in Libya knows that the US has tried to replicate the same regime-change mechanism in Syria.
The formation of multilateral contact groups supporting proxy oppositions has been a key to this process. What most people do not know is that the Americans’ contact group industry started in Somalia…
…The NTC [National Transitional Council] has privatized Libya’s assets and siphoned off its wealth under the management of Libyan-American neo-liberal economist turned “oil and finance minister” Ali Tarhouni. Libya’s oil is no longer in the hands of Libyans, who are now too busy fighting one another with RPG launchers, armored vests, and light infantry rifles, courtesy of NATO.
In Somalia and Libya what has replaced the ICU [The Islamic Court Union] and Jamahiriya is a never-ending state of “transition” and enclaves of guarded bureaucrats tied to Washington, Brussels, the IMF, and World Bank, who are detached from the violent reality in their countries.
Outside of these bureaucratic offices, the rule of law has crumpled and the streets are run by militias and thugs. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) took over in Libya and Al-Shaabab ran wild in Somalia, both with the help of foreign fighters.
The word on the street is that all the candidates in the recent Libyan election were proxies of Western imperialism, and the winner appears to be hand-picked:
Libya’s national congress picked Mustafa Abu Shagour as prime minister on Wednesday, the US-trained optical engineer naming improved services and security as his priorities a day after suspected Islamist gunmen killed the US ambassador to Libya.
Abu Shagour defeated wartime rebel premier Mahmoud Jibril in a close second round vote by 96 votes to 94 in a contest that was shown live on national television.
As government chief he will be responsible for the day-to-day running of Libya’s oil-based economy while the national congress elected in July passes laws and helps draft a new constitution for the North African state…
The vote was overshadowed by the killing of the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans in an attack on the US consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi.
“It makes security high on my priorities,” he said…
I wonder if he’ll follow in the footsteps of Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: